Last week brought in the mail the much anticipated Lang's auction catalog. Much has been written about the company's decision to move to an all-digital format, along with other major changes for this spring's auction. Perhaps the most lamented loss, for some at least, were the gorgeous printed auction catalogs that served as a valuable reference tool for many.
The new format, however, does offer some distinct advantages. The catalog came in two styles -- a DVD format and a DVD-Rom. The DVD was very neat; it worked nicely in my Toshiba DVD player and allowed for simple navigation. I was happy to see some of the items like the Hardy Sunbeam fly reel in high definition on a flat screen television. The problem, of course, is that I spent like four hours scrolling back and forth while my wife looked on with an increasingly angry furrow to her brow. So be wary--watch at your own risk.
The DVD-Rom contained two master files, one for each day of the auction. It is these items that are available for download from the Lang's auction site. They were in PDF format and require a PDF reader, or if you use a Mac, the Preview program. The awesome benefit of PDF is that it is searchable. I've had a jones for William Mills of late, so a search for the word "MILLS" brought Lots 61, 109, 118, 259, 260, 261, 579, 805 and 972. Such a function saves much time, especially when returning back to an item previously viewed.
While not infinitely scaleable, the images were sufficient to blow up a tremendous amount of detail that simply was not available in the printed catalogs. Overall, I found the PDF files to be easiest to use, although the DVD was certainly a nice touch.
Will this cause me to completely forget the old auction catalogs? Well, things being what they are, this format offers some distinct advantages, but it's still hard to curl up by the fire with a good laptop. Of course, any Lang's catalog is infinitely better than no Lang's catalog at all, and as much as we may all miss the catalog books, I bet no one misses it more than Lang's owners John and Debbie Ganung. They literally put their heart and soul into the catalogs.
The catalog is available for a nominal fee as either the physical DVD/DVD-Rom or as a downloadable PDF file by clicking here. And of course, the auction catalog can be found on-line by clicking here.
Much more on the auction next week as we enter our semi-annual Lang's Week here on Fishing for History!
-- Dr. Todd